The cowrie and the development of euro-african trade in Lagos, 1851-1861

Various objects that feature in the culture of several ethnic groups and peoples in Africa have played very significant roles in the evolution of their respective histories. It is not however seldom that the essential content of these roles, and the meaning locally attached to the objects themselves on account of which they were capable of playing such roles have been misrepresented in accounts of the past of such peoples. This study demonstrates – with Lagos as a case example – that the use of the cowrie which obtained in many parts of West africa and in parts of Asia has afforded occasion for such misrepresentation. Analysing the place and the significance that the cowrie had in the historical evolution of Lagos, the author shows that the development of trade in Lagos cannot be said to be due to anything other than the cowrie, and this, because of its significance in the local culture. Notes.

Title: The cowrie and the development of euro-african trade in Lagos, 1851-1861
Author: Nzemeke, A.D.
Year: 1977
Periodical: Bulletin de l’Institut Fondamental d’Afrique Noire, Srie B: Sciences humaines
Volume: 39
Issue: 3
Pages: 518-531
Language: English
Geographic term: Nigeria
Abstract: Various objects that feature in the culture of several ethnic groups and peoples in Africa have played very significant roles in the evolution of their respective histories. It is not however seldom that the essential content of these roles, and the meaning locally attached to the objects themselves on account of which they were capable of playing such roles have been misrepresented in accounts of the past of such peoples. This study demonstrates – with Lagos as a case example – that the use of the cowrie which obtained in many parts of West africa and in parts of Asia has afforded occasion for such misrepresentation. Analysing the place and the significance that the cowrie had in the historical evolution of Lagos, the author shows that the development of trade in Lagos cannot be said to be due to anything other than the cowrie, and this, because of its significance in the local culture. Notes.